Though the College Football Playoff – with Alabama the only team to have made appearances in both the first and second editions – now takes center stage, it is notable that the Crimson Tide won the Southeastern Conference Championship Game Saturday in Atlanta.
Alabama defeated Florida, 29-15, Saturday at the Georgia Dome for the Crimson Tide’s 25th SEC championship. Not only is that more than any other conference team, it is equal to the combined total of the next two teams, Tennessee with 13 and Georgia with 12.
It also marked Bama winning back-to-back league championships, the first time that has been done by any SEC team since Tennessee did it in 1997-98. And it was Alabama’s first time to win back-to-back since Paul Bryant was the Tide’s coach in 1978-79.
Even though Alabama has won many SEC championships, the fourth in Coach Nick Saban’s nine years in Tuscaloosa was somewhat remarkable considering the Tide lost its first league game of the season to Ole Miss and then had to win its next 10 games in a row. Not only does Saban recognize the magnitude of winning the SEC title, he has also transmitted that importance to his players.
Alabama won the first SEC Championship during the 1933 season as Coach Frank Thomas led the Crimson Tide to 5-0-1 conference record. Thomas led Alabama to four SEC Championships. Bryant directed the Crimson Tide to six national championships and 13 SEC titles during his 25-year run in Tuscaloosa. Alabama won five straight SEC Championships from 1971-75 and captured eight of the 10 SEC Championships from 1970-79.
In addition to Thomas and Bryant, Alabama has had five other coaches win SEC Championships, including Harold “Red” Drew (1953), Bill Curry (1989), Gene Stallings (1992), Mike DuBose (1999), and Saban (2009, 2012, 2014 and 2015). In addition to its 25 SEC Championships, Alabama also won four Southern Conference titles (1924, 1925, 1926 and 1930), giving the school 29 conference football championships.
There is also a measure of satisfaction in defeating Florida for the SEC title. That evened the record against the Gators in the championship games at 4-4. Since a Florida win in the 2008 SEC Championship Game, the Crimson Tide has won the last five meetings.
Alabama has a record of 26-14 against Florida in all games.
Saban has won his last seven championship games with wins over Florida (2009 and 2015), Georgia (2012) and Missouri (2014) in SEC Championship Games, and victories over Texas (2009), LSU (2011) and Notre Dame (2012) in National Championship contests.
Bama under Saban is 38-13 (.745) against the Associated Press top 25, including a 20-7 (.741) record against AP top 10 teams.
Alabama led Florida, 12-7, a halftime on the way to a 29-15 victory over the Gators. Under Saban, the Crimson Tide is 94-6 (.940) when leading at the half. Alabama has led at the half in 10 of its 13 games this year, trailing Ole Miss and Arkansas, and tied at 7-7 versus Tennessee at the midway point.
With Keith Holcombe’s blocked punt that went out of the end zone for a safety, the Crimson Tide has scored in the first half of its last 116 games, the longest streak in the nation. The last time UA failed to score in the first half was on Sept. 29, 2007, when Alabama and Florida State headed into halftime in a scoreless tie. The Seminoles won that game, 21-14.
Alabama has now scored in 196 consecutive games – the longest streak in program history.
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Bama is 78-4 since the start of the 2008 season when rushing for at least 140 yards. The only losses were at Auburn in 2013, Ole Miss and Ohio State in 2014, and Ole Miss in 2015.